Daniel Beck Guion and Paulette (Van Laere) Guion on their wedding day in July, 1945
Trumbull, Conn., October 28, 1945
Yesterday was your birthday. I started out for the office with every intention of trying to find an interval in the days work long enough to permit my dashing off a V-mail letter to you, but alas from the time I arrived until quitting time one thing after another seemed to follow in endless demand, leaving but the alternative of incorporating a birthday greeting to you as part of my regular Sunday letter. So here I am, with a lot more desire than ability to state the obvious. Though I have said this to all you boys many times, it still loses none of its force, to me at least, in those quiet moments by oneself when we count over our blessings and mentally list the things we have to be thankful for, when I repeat how you boys have done so much to compensate for the loss of your mother in making life’s daily round so much more worthwhile than it otherwise would have been. While it applies to the other boys too, I am writing especially to you now, and I want to say to you what you must indeed fully realize, that from that moment when I anxiously paced back and forth anxiously waiting for the doctor to inform me that little Alfred had a new brother or sister, through your mischievous childhood, your grammar school and Boy Scout days, high school, CCC Camp, and your various adult activities right up to the present moment, you have been the sort of son any father rejoices in having. It’s one of those things you really can’t appreciate until you have experienced it, so my main birthday wish to you at this time is that the little Valentine (Grandpa is referring to the fact that Paulette is expecting their first child, due in May, 1946) which is now on his way to you for arrival next May or thereabouts, may in turn bring to you and Paulette just as much joy and deep thankfulness as a parent, my boy, have brought to me – – and right now I can’t think of any bigger or better wish to send you.
This picture may not have been taken on the night that Grandpa was writing this letter, but this is what it might have looked like. Grandpa, Marian, Lad, Jean, Dick and Aunt Betty sitting around the kitchen table.
Not to rub it in at all, but we are all going to take time out right at this point to drink a toast to you with – – hold Your breath – – a glass of Burrough’s Cider. So here’s to you from Aunt Betty, Dick, Jean, Lad, Marian and myself, here seated in the old kitchen you know so well. So here’s to you. (Pause) Perhaps we might change this, if you think so, and say, a “moment for silent prayer.” – – You old reprobate.
Thanks for your letter of Oct. 22nd by airmail which arrived yesterday (five days in transit is pretty good), stating you were shortly leaving for Liege, that the things for the Rabets (the famil that invited Dan and Paulette into their home shortly after they were married and Dan was working a distance from Paulette’s parent’s home) might be sent by express (they are awfully slow coming from Sears), your receipt of Aunt Betty’s letter and some of the boxes with Paulette’s things in them. Do get her to write us how she likes the various things so we can be guided next time if they are not just what she wants.
In contrast to this speedy letter, I also received earlier in the week a letter you wrote and sent by regular mail on Sept. 18th. In this you ask that a complete layette be sent to Paulette. It is true that packages can now be sent either by mail or express to France but the thing that I am wondering about, if they are sent to a civilian address rather than to an APO number, is whether duty will not have to be paid, and if so, whether it would not be much cheaper even if a little longer in transit, to continue to send packages addressed to you through regular Army channels. Perhaps France does not impose duties. Will you inquire on this point and let me know promptly if you still want things sent direct to civilian addresses?
Page 2 10/28/45
Lad, Dick, Ced and Grandpa on the small island Grandpa bought for his children’s summer retreat.
The Lad and Richard Guion’s are entering fully into the spirit of the lake summer place idea and both of them, with the aid of their spouses, have or are in the process of making out floor plans showing their ideas for a summer cottage and I am eagerly waiting your’s and Paulette’s ideas. Ced I know is going to have some very interesting angles. I am also wondering if Dave will surprise us, even though I do not expect he has given much thought to matters of this sort.
Lad came home on another pass yesterday and he and Dick and dad had a sort of a field day this morning that you would have enjoyed. With the aid of your old Chevy, Lad’s Buick, some borrowed rope and just plain manpower, we pulled down an old apple tree, hauled sundry fallen logs too heavy to manhandle and in general had such a good time in the pleasant October weather that we long overstayed our dinner hour, in spite of which fact the girls were very patient and forbearing and didn’t act all upset. So perhaps we felt all the guiltier.
David Peabody Guion
Received your letter of Oct. 12th on the 22nd — not bad for so great a distance. This is the one where you say I am making you homesick by all the references to rides and trips; also that it has become an effort for you to write letters. That is quite understandable. I occasionally feel that way myself and find it an effort to try to sound interesting, knowing you boys will be disappointed if I don’t write and yet feeling that what I write is a lot of trash. And yet I imagine the effort is worthwhile. I know yours is to me. And you have a lot more to gripe about than I have. I keep busy all the time and feel I am doing something useful for your benefit when you come home, but you must feel sort of a let-down with the war over and nothing very important or dramatic to accomplish. I see, like the Guion tribe in general, you still keep your sense of humor, and for the benefit of the others I will quote your last paragraph. “Things go on the same here – we’re still sweating it out and feeling sorry for ourselves. The only change I can think of right now is the addition of a new sign out in the hall up here on the third floor of the Waterworks Building (The Water Works Building is in the downtown area of Manila, Philippines, where Dave’s unit, the communication center is located). The stairs going from the ground floor to the top (4th floor) are set in a sort of squared circle with a well going all the way down to the bottom. The sign here on the third floor says: “Don’t jump — we’ll all be home in six months”. I hope the sign is right.
I’ll paraphrase what I said to Dan. Just wait to you have a boy of your own that you have a particular fondness for, who made a resolve to write to you at the very least once a month, and then you wait and wait and week after week goes by after the month is up and still you don’t know whether the plane he went up in ran out of gas and could not come down, and then you can appreciate how the poor old father feels, gnashing his fingernails, glancing anxiously up as each plane streaks across the sky, wondering if that is the silent son at last coming home. And so on that sad and doleful note I shall come to the signing off space, but still hopeful, shall continue to remain,
Tomorrow I will begin posting the very long second letter, filled with all kinds of news from his sons who are still away from home.